10th November 2015
Subject: blog Concise 2
Today we have been dealing with the consequences of an overnight disaster in our little world; we ripped our big spinnaker in half!
It happened in quite an innocuous way, the wind had been moderate but nothing special, the sea the same. It was dark with no moon so you could not see the waves on the water but just about make out the outline of the spinnaker with the strips of glow fast showing the shape of the leading edge.
We were both on deck about to change over helms, chatting perhaps not concentrating enough when a wave came from 90 degrees to the rest of the swell, and coincided with slamming into the side of the boat at the same time as we had finished coming off surfing a different wave. The force of the wave hitting us on the side spun us round into a broach leaving us on our side before sheets could be eased. The spinnaker flogged twice before we were able to gain control of the boat and bring it upright again, by which time we could see something was wrong. The sail had torn almost exactly in half with a diagonal rip starting two thirds of the way up the leading edge and finishing at the clew. Oh Dear! or words to that effect.
There was nothing really to say or do other than take the sail down and replace it with the gennaker which has been holding the fort in its absence ever since.
Ripping this sail is a killer blow, it is a vital component to our sail plan offering our largest down wind sail area and we should have been using it all day today and for many other days in the future not least of which the final approaches into Itajai. Without this sail we are not able to sail to our target speeds in the lower wind ranges, we are down the pan.
By the time daylight came we realised we had to try and fix the spinnaker and following an inspection of the damage decided where there’s sticky stuff there’s hope and set about patching it back together using spray on glue, sticky back Dacron, Kevlar patches for the clew and a good old fashioned needle and thread. It was a mammoth task, we set the sail out in the bow of the boat, it was unbelievably hot and there was water slopping around that had come in with the spinnaker foot which ended up in the water when we dropped. The boat despite being under gennaker was still bucking around on the waves, making it all quite difficult to find a dry flat surface, lay out two matching parts of the kite and then stick them together.
There followed five hours of what can best be described as Bikram yoga meets Blue Peter where I contorted my body into all sorts of shapes to pin and hold bits of spinnaker while bracing against the roll of the boat, while Pips cut strips of Dacron, we sprayed glue and stuck bits together all in an excruciatingly hot and wet environment. The piece de resistance was the clew which had partially ripped into the reinforcement and was put back together with some Kevlar patches and Dr Sails epoxy glue which says it works in the wet.
We pushed the boat as hard as we could today with the sails we had but despite slowly reeling in Groupe Setin and Zetra the 6th and 7th place boats we lost our 8th place to Espoir Competition in the 1500 position report, which is not surprising really, it has been perfect A2 spinnaker conditions and assuming they still have the full sail inventory we were there for the taking, limping along under powered.
By sunset we had put the kite back together again and were ready for a test. We hoisted and then gingerly raised the sock to let the spinnaker out and I was half expecting to see all of the patches pull apart one by one as the wind hit the sail but it held. I couldn’t stop laughing looking at the giant pink hedkandi branded spinnaker which now has a jagged white scar slashed through the middle of it. But it worked.
We kept it up for an hour or so and then just when it was dark hear a quiet pop and a zipping sound and knew we had pushed it too far, some of the repairs were coming apart. So we have again dropped the spinnaker into the forepeak and replaced it with our workhorse gennaker to make our way south through the night.
Tomorrow will be a day of more sticking and a lot of sewing to secure the sticky repairs and give the sail a chance of lasting more than a couple of nights. It is not job done by a long way but not game over either.